With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Connections is a program Memory Matters started in January. Since the inception of the program I have written several articles about early memory loss (EML) and the importance of having this type of “club” for persons who have been diagnosed with early memory loss.

These kinds of clubs are popping up in many locales and are serving a population that can benefit from being proactive regarding their brain health. These are folks who are seeking interventions that offer hope and a sense of control of their lives.

What do we do in Connections? Our program focuses on enhancing cognition and well being for those with mild memory loss with the intent to promote and prolong independence.

The program is designed to preserve and challenge cognitive abilities, teach memory strategies and encourage an active lifestyle. Some of my folks are still driving, volunteering, playing tennis, golf, or bridge.

Most have come to Memory Matters after a diagnosis of some type of dementia.

A typical day can include creative writing, word games, group problem solving, yoga and meditation specifically for brain health, a healthy lunch, and socialization.

We also use an electronic program called iN2L, which offers more than 4,000 brain games that are played on individual tablets.

Occasionally I will have a “homework” assignment or ask them to bring in an interesting story. It can be something personal or an article they read.

Who is appropriate for such a program? First, it is important to distinguish between EML, which can affect individuals of any age, and younger-onset dementia, which refers to dementia that starts prior to the age of 65.

EML programs might be appropriate for adults of any age, but most participants are likely to be over 65. In our program, we have one participant in his 50s and one in her 90s.

The first step is to call and set up an appointment for an evaluation. This typically includes a memory screening. Someone with a score of 21-24 points out of a possible 30 points could be a perfect fit for Connections.

After the evaluation, we invite the person for a “guest day,” and if all goes well they become a member of this unique club.

We rarely have openings in this program but we have a few right now. If this sounds like it could be good for you or someone you know, call us at 843-842-6688 and ask for me.

If I had the space in this article, I could share many extraordinary success stories, but maybe you can come learn first-hand.

Karen Doughtie is assistant director of Memory Matters, serving Bluffton and Hilton Head. karen@memory-matters.org